Birdman of Alcatraz 1962 NR CC

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(92) IMDb 7.8/10
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Burt Lancaster stars as a murderer sentenced to Alcatraz, who becomes a world renowned authority on birds. The excellent supporting cast includes Thelma Ritter, Telly Savalas and Karl Malden.

Starring:
Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden
Runtime:
2 hours 29 minutes

Birdman of Alcatraz

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton
Starring Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden
Supporting actors Thelma Ritter, Neville Brand, Betty Field, Telly Savalas, Edmond O'Brien, Hugh Marlowe, Whit Bissell, Crahan Denton, James Westerfield, Robert Bailey, Nicky Blair, John Burnside, Robert Burton, Mushy Callahan, Jimmy Casino, James Cavanaugh, Lewis Charles, Noble 'Kid' Chissel
Studio MGM
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Birdman of Alcatraz is one of my favorite films, and I recommend it.
sauerkraut
Sensitive portrait about a recluse who became in a real authority in what birds behaviors concerns Eventually this activity will lead him to his bliss.
Hiram Gomez Pardo
If you like movies with a good story and people and reality of life ,you will enjoy this film.
Jerry G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By K. Gittins on June 25, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Birdman of Alcatraz" is another fine movie directed by John Frankenheimer. His next 3 movies are "The Manchurian Candidate", "Seven Days in May", and "The Train". I have seen them all and rate them 5 stars as well - he makes great movies. As is Frankenheimer's style, there is great depth of focus from foreground to background, but his "big head/little head" wide-angle shots are not as pronounced as in "The Manchurian Candidate" or "Seven Days In May".

Burt Lancaster earned an oscar nomination for his role of Robert Stroud, a convicted killer who was sentenced to solitary confinement while awaiting execution. His impending hanging was subsequently commuted, but he did spend over 50 years behind bars, with very little contact with other people and even less with the outside world. The movie presents Stroud in a pretty benevolent light, although in reality he was apparently very strange and disliked by most others.

Originally banned from having nearly any kind of activity as a hobby, Stroud eventually begins to raise sparrows and other birds while imprisoned in Leavenworth prison (he never had any at Alcatraz). Although Stroud only had a few years of grade school education, he teaches himself several languages and many sciences while in prison. As a result of making "home remedies" to treat his birds when they begin to die off, he eventually writes some well-regarded books on bird diseases and their treatment.

The black-and-white movie was released while Stroud was still alive in 1962 but he never saw it. He died of natural causes on November 21, 1963, just one day before president Kennedy was assassinated, and his death went largely unnoticed.

Co-starring Karl Malden as the warden, Neville Brand as a guard, and Telly Savalas (oscar nominated) as a fellow immate, it was well-acted through out. The 149 minute film has French and Spanish subtitles, chapters and a trailer.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 18, 2001
Format: DVD
You know that someone is a great film star when he or she can convey great charisma and deliver an A+ performance in a very quiet role. Burt Lancaster was one of these stars. He wasn't known for quiet roles but if that was what was called for, he could deliver. Lancaster's character, Robert Stroud, was a real criminal who had to find a way to endure long term penal confinement. Today he might become an outsider artist or be attending college classes in prison. Decades ago, when these things were yet unknown to our prison system, he had to be even more improvisational. Thus, he became an expert on birds and their diseases and treatments after a wounded sparrow came to his attention. This intense portrait of a character couldn't be any more opposite from Lancaster's most well known performance as Elmer Gantry, the barnstorming evangelist with earthy appetites. Lancaster was also a very physical actor who liked to move around in a film but he was able to restrain himself beautifully within the confines of this role. One really has to look to find junk roles done by Lancaster because he was very committed to the art and craft of acting, even at this point in his career when he was the most "bankable." Everyone else involved in this film also does very good work but I don't think the project would have seen the light of day without Lancaster's coming on board.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on January 22, 2005
Format: DVD
Burt Lancaster won an Academy Award nomination and could easily have corralled another Oscar statuette to go with the one he secured two years earlier for his excellent effort in "Elmer Gantry" as he portrayed convicted killer Robert Stroud in "Birdman of Alcatraz." This was also a peak period for the film's director, John Frankenheimer, since in a five-year period beginning with this triumph he also scored big with "Seven Days in May," which also starred Lancaster, along with "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Seconds."

Stroud is depicted as a mamma's boy gone wrong who will not allow any fellow Leavenworth Penitentiary fellow inmates to look at his mother's picture or mention her name. He is sent to Leavenworth for killing a man in Alaska after the victim had beaten up a prostitute friend of Stroud's. The convict is then sent a hair's breath from the hangman's rope after he kills a prison guard in a rage. The explosion occurs after he has been told he would not be allowed to see his mother, who has journeyed from Alaska to Kansas to visit him.

Thelma Ritter, in a performance for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Academy nomination, battles zealously for her convict son throughout, and when he is sentenced to death she journeys to Washington, D.C. and obtains an appointment with First Lady Edith Wilson. President Wilson commutes Lancaster's sentence to life shortly before the execution is scheduled to occur. The result, however, is that the prisoner will spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement as a result of his hair trigger temper and homicidal propensities.

Lancaster verbally spars for the entire picture with his nemesis, prison warden Karl Malden, although they do achieve something of an understanding by film's end.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2003
Format: DVD
I really think that this is a great anti death penaly movie - It was also a very interesting movie for its time- Burt Lancaster was often known for playing unsympathetic charaters. Some think that Strouds character was portrayed too soft i.e. that he was much more of a psychopath with not one shred of humaness- But that is drama! If you want a totally factual film make a documentary- movie making is notorius for humaninzing bad people to make the charater have more universal appeal and make it easier to connect to the audience.I really think the film is more about how a man could do something quite extraordanary in prison( i.e.) become such an expert on birds under such horrible conditions. Stroud was also a man who would not give in to anyone, a charateristic that I know personally was very appealing to Burt Lancaster. This movie is really well acted and directed, well worth seeing!
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